Sunday, 5 January 2014

Grey Marl Coppelia Cardigan

My first make of 2014 is complete and it's a cracker! Not only is it my very first make on my shiny new overlocker, it completes a UFO listed on my Top 5 Misses of 2013, plus gets me off to a good start on route to completing my goal of conquering knit fabrics this year! It is of course the Coppelia Cardigan from Papercut Patterns.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Grey Marl Jersey Knit Papercut Patterns Coppelia Ballet Wrap Cardigan Sewing Pattern

I bought this pattern around a year ago when I first discovered Papercut. I'd got bored of the unflattering cardigans I could find in the shops and fell in love with ballet wrap style of the Coppelia, especially after seeing Lauren's four! It's an actual wrap around design too, with long ties that thread through a gap in the side seam and can tie at the back or front. I like either! The instructions are great, especially the diagrams. I found them very easy to follow even as a knit newbie and I think even without an overlocker you could achieve a really neat clean finish. It was so quick to put together too, not including the finishing of the ties and cuffs I think I had it together in a couple of hours. And that's including getting used to the serger!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Grey Marl Jersey Knit Papercut Patterns Coppelia Ballet Wrap Cardigan Sewing Pattern

The fabric is something I've had in the stash a while, I think I got it on Goldhawk Road but can't be sure. It's beautifully soft to wear which makes me think it's a cotton but the drape is so lovely it makes me think there must be some rayon involved. Anyway, I like it and I also like a bit of a grey marl in basic! I cut it out quite a few months ago and have a vague recollection of it being a little tricky to work with as it slid about. It sewed up lovely though and works great with this style, I think it will be great over dresses in the summer. I'd like to try this pattern in a thicker more stable knit too, it would be so cosy!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Grey Marl Jersey Knit Papercut Patterns Coppelia Ballet Wrap Cardigan Sewing Pattern

As for the overlocker... I love it, I love it, I love it! I was a bit scared of it at first but took my time reading the manual and having a practice before starting. I had a mini disaster early on when I did something strange and managed to snap three of the four threads. My initial reaction involved a lot of expletives as I was hoping to avoid the nightmare of rethreading for quite some time! It did take some time, a lot of staring at diagrams and watching You Tube videos (this one is great) but it wasn't all that bad. I'm actually sort of glad it happened, as I feel I know the machine a bit better now and it's given me some confidence with it. When it came to making the cardigan I had a practice with scraps of the jersey I was using and played around with the stitch size and differential feed settings. This wasn't actually as hard as I imagined and I was soon all set to go. I'm really pleased with the smooth neat finish I achieved on most of the seams.

Diary of a Chainstitcher overlocker serger knits
Mmm...lovely overlocked seams!

I think my fear of sewing knits has been mainly about the fear of the unknown but also because I'd read how different sewing with one knit from the next can be because of the varying levels of stretch and stability. As a general rule I like following specific instructions and knowing that that will work out, like baking using a recipe for example. The idea of needing to experiment each and every time with how much negative ease is needed dependant on the knit, or how much to stretch the neckband to achieve a nice tight finish kind of terrified me! I still feel pretty much completely clueless about types of knit fabrics, identifying the different levels of stretch and their suitability for particular projects but even after this little experience I feel more confident about being able to sew with them well. I might not know how to do a lot of it yet but I know I will be able to!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Grey Marl Jersey Knit Papercut Patterns Coppelia Ballet Wrap Cardigan Sewing Pattern

The thing I've really started to appreciate is how forgiving knits are to sew with. I realised when I was pinning together the side seams and underarm seams that the sleeves looked really wide. I did a bit of measuring and blog research and decided to reduce the size of them. I simply used a much bigger seam allowance than was called for, starting at 3/4" and grading out to nothing as I approached the underarm. I wouldn't have dared do this without careful measuring with a woven but as it was stretch I felt like I could just go for it. In actual fact I wish I'd taken off a bit more as they are still a little too loose for my liking, especially in this drapey knit. I cut an XS this time but will probably go down to an XXS all over next time depending on the stretch of the fabric I use. A definite alteration I will make is to take in the seams right up under the arms to reduce the size of the armholes. This is wearable as it is but I've never been sure about a batwing and this style is verging on it.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Grey Marl Jersey Knit Papercut Patterns Coppelia Ballet Wrap Cardigan Sewing Pattern

I will also stretch the band out much more when attaching it around the neckline next time as I had no clue how much to ease it in and I'd prefer a tighter finish in future. Something learned about seeing with knits for next time I suppose!

The only issue I had was with the construction was the cuffs. I've got very tiny wrists and as I had reduced the width of the sleeve I decided I needed to reduce the width of the cuff. I took the same amount off as I had done with the sleeves and this fits comfortably. However, as the cuffs were then so small I had real trouble fitting them around the free arm of my overlocker. I even tried on my machine instead but that was even worse! I eventually managed to get the cuffs attached on the overlocker but because the fabric was so stretched out the stitching prevents the seam from bouncing back to it's original size if you get what I mean. I've now got a wavy overlocked seam inside which I can deal with but the bulk of that makes it a bit bumpy on the outside rather than sitting flat. I'm not sure if maybe I should have altered the differential feed?

Bumpy cuff seam

I'm definitely going to be making this pattern up again as I just love the style so I'm considering next time maybe attaching the cuffs before sewing up the arm/side seam. My cuffs can't be much smaller than the smallest size though so I'm assuming other people must have this issue...any knit experts out there want to offer up some tips?!

Surprisingly non fiddly point where wrap turns into straps

I was giving myself quite a hard time about messing the cuffs up and also about the quality of my topstitching to finish off the hem band. I think I was really frustrated as these are the last two steps of the construction process and up until that point I'd been delighted with the professional looking finish I had managed (man do I love the overlocker!) I was really overanalysing the whole thing before I remembered that this is actually only the second knit garment I have made and the first ever thing I've made on an overlocker. It's quite a simple pattern but definitely more complex than a plain skirt or t-shirt, so I should be really pleased with what I'd made. And now I've given it a press and worn it for a while it turns out I am!

Well done if you've made it to the end of this post, it turned into a long one with all that learning to cover! I'm totally in love with the overlocker, completely in love with this pattern and am definitely being swayed to feeling the same about knits! To sum it up in the style of 30 Rock's Kenneth...

Diary of a Chainstitcher Grey Marl Jersey Knit Papercut Patterns Coppelia Ballet Wrap Cardigan Sewing Pattern

Stay tuned for more!

35 comments:

  1. Love it! Great way to kick off the new year.

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    1. Thanks Meg! Jumped straight in and started as I mean to go on!

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  2. Looks super, especially for your first try with the overlocker. I LOVE sewing with stretch for the reasons you mentioned: so much easier to fit and adjust on the fly, no extra finishing to do, the tidy pro look inside. That fabric looks lovely too, mmm grey.

    Couple of tips for getting around cuffs: take it slowly - sew an inch then stop and nudge the fabric around - and perhaps baste into place first on the sewing machine. You can also sew them on before joining in the round, then just thread the loose threads onto a big darning needle and weave them back into the overlocked seam - makes a pretty neat finish, though not as neat as a cuff joined in the round. I did it on a baby top recently where it literally would not fit through the machine!

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    1. One more v important overlocker tip: don't ever rethread it when you change colours, just cut the old thread at the top by the cone, tightly knot on the new one and pull-crank through the machine by hand, re-threading the needle if the knot won't pull trough.

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    2. Thanks for the tips Katie! Both super useful, I'm going to get back on that overlocker and try them out pronto! Also got to know that I'm not alone with my feelings about grey...haha!

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  3. This is lovely! Really flattering shape. I bet you get loads of wear out of it!
    For tight cuffs etc, I either sew before the side seams, or I might do with the wrong side against the presser foot, so you avoid the free arm altogether. Everything sits above the plate and you just have to hold the rest of the cuff out of the way of the needle. But that's on a regular sewing machine though, I'm still wishing for an overlocker ;)

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    1. Thanks for the tip Tania, I did consider that but I was a bit scared to attempt it on the overlocker as the cuff was so tiny and I was worried the wrong edge would end up caught under the blade in my clumsiness...that seems to be the way to do it though so maybe I should try!

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  4. Gosh, your cardigan is fantastic! It's so neat on the inside, and I don't think the sleeves look batwing at all. I love the photo of where the wrap turns into straps, it looks great. This is such an informative post. I have yet to conquer my fear of knits. I blame a lot of this on not having any knit fabric in my stash! (It would help to have some, wouldn't it!) I have looked at knit fabrics, then I go a bit "oh, shiny" at the cotton prints. Ahem. I'm going to have to give myself a shake about this.

    I think that youtube video is the same one I used to learn to thread my overlocker. The dvd that came with the 1034D is pretty useless, and my thread kept snapping on the lower looper. I have no problems threading mine now. One thing I did do was to stick some labels saying 1, 2, 3 and 4 below the four tension dials so I remember what order to thread it in.

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    1. Good tip with the tension dials, I had to keep looking back in the manual to remind myself which one belonged to which needle and looper.
      You could totally rock the knits, especially as you already have an overlocker! Turns out there's not a lot to be afraid of...

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  5. I absolutely love this! I really need to get this pattern (after I recover from all that Christmas shopping ;) And way to go overcoming your fear of knits! I did the same thing around this time last year and I have to say, I haven't stopped sewing with them since! Can't wait to see what you make next! :)

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    1. I can see why you haven't stopped! Definitely get this pattern, it's a bit different to everything else I've come across so far, an interesting one for knits!

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  6. Excellent make! I think I'm going to attempt knits soon too...

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    1. Do it! I'm actually wondering if the Georgia might work in a thick stable knit like ponte

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  7. Dude that was so quick! Your new overlocker got an early year workout. Great stuff

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    1. Thanks! The temptation of the shiny new machine to play with was exactly the kick up the bum I needed!

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  8. That's one fab looking cardi!
    I am lucky enough to have an overlocker, and I also use an industrial one at work too so I have picked up a few tips :)
    In addition to what Katie said about pulling through the threads, on a domestic it is easiest if you turn all your tension dials to 0 first. To attach cuffs (we sometimes put on those tight stretch cuffs on boilersuits, horrible things!) the easiest way I have found is to have your sleeve right side out and pop the cuff over the top with the raw edges matching up. Then just place the inside under the foot and start overlocking, you should be able to go right round without much fuss just holding the sleeve open and away so nothing accidentally bunches up or gets attached together. I hope that makes sense!
    I also read somewhere that measuring the length/ circumference of the neck line/other part and taking 15% off the measurement will give a non floppy, snug fit. It works with the jersey "t-shirting" (which could mean anything ha ha!) I have been using recently. I just placed my first online fabric order and have ordered knits and when I was looking through there were so many sorts of jersey I just picked some and hoped for the best, I keep hoping a jersey 101 post will appear in the blogosphere soon :)

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    1. Those tips are so useful thank you! I'm feeling more confident just reading the suggestions from you guys! I was a bit concerned about putting the inside of the cuff under the foot as it was my first go, thought I might end up making a mess of my almost finished card! But good to know that it's possible and I'll just go for it next time!

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  9. Beautiful cardigan, I love the style and you can even tell from the pics that the fabric is so soft and drapey. I've been having problems with my overlocker and knits lately and think it needs a tune-up. It still sews fine with wovens. And, I don't have the manual for it, so I'm not much help at figuring out what the settings should be if something goes wrong.

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    1. What make is yours Catja? I was missing the manual for my normal machine and in the end I emailed Janome and they just sent me back a digital copy! Hope you get yours sorted out soon

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  10. Love it! I was hoping to see some more Coppelias on my blog roll as I am tossing up whether to get the pattern myself. You did a fabulous job on it and pretty much swayed me!

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    1. Definitely make it! I'd say go smaller rather than larger if you're unsure on size. Looking forward to seeing yours!

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  11. Ooh, this looks so cute! I love it on you! As for the cuff thing, I sew them with the presser foot on the inside of the cuff tube, it that makes sense, so you're not stretching out the cuff. If that doesn't make sense I can tweet you a photo of what I mean!

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    1. no good explanation thank you! I was wondering about trying that but was concerned about getting that close in to the blade on the overlocker, but now I know that's the way to do it I'm all set thanks!

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  12. What a gorgeous top! I'd never guess it was your second attempt at the fabric!

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    1. Thanks Vicki Kate! I'm pleased I went for something a little more complex than a t-shirt, it's given me some real confidence!

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  13. This looks so great on you. I'm dying to make a wrap top after all of the great ones I've seen lately.

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    1. I can't recommend it enough, it's so cosy in a knit, it feels like getting a hug!

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  14. Yay go you with your new overlocker!

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    1. I'm a very lucky lady to have one! I did a little victory dance with pretty much every beautiful seam!

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  15. You have every reason to be pleased with this first knit project of yours. What a great wrap. Like others have already suggested, try to attach your cuffs before you sew your side seams together, it usually helps. There will of course be times when it wont work but it does save frustration. Look forward to seeing more knit makes.x

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    1. Thanks! I'm looking forward to making some more knit makes and trying out these cuffs again. I've just got some different colours of thread cones so now I'm all set to go!

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  16. Looks lovely! Great to start the new year off by turning one of your misses into what looks like a definite hit. I really want to conquer knit fabrics this year too - I haven't sewn with knits before but so much of my RTW wardrobe is in knits of one kind or another so I really need to get over the fear!

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    1. I totally understand the fear but I believe it can be conquered! I feel like i just need to keep trying knits of different stretch and stability now to build up confidence

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  17. This is lovely...and you're certainly being too hard on yourself about any "issues". It's looks beautifully made. And a great basic.

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    1. Thanks Evie! Don't get me wrong I am overall really pleased with it and I have worn it loads already, I just wish it was perfect!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!